A Look at Holiday Traditions from Around the World

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BTRtoday takes a look at holiday traditions around the world that you might not have heard of before.


In Spain’s Catalan region, children gather in their homes the night before christmas to whack a festive shit log. Tió, as the log is called, is a hollow log with twig legs, a face and a red hat. On Dec. 8 of each year–the Feast of the Immaculate Conception–families bring out the happy log and task the children with “feeding” him by slipping him nuts, fruits and water. If they are extra doting, they wrap him in a blanket to ensure he stays warm. Then, on Christmas Eve, they beat the shit out of him. After they do so, they are rewarded with the surprise that log’s poop had turned to candy. – Kimberly Ruth


In America, we watch the ball drop to signify the new year. In Stonehaven, a town in Scotland, the streets become lined with locals swinging fireballs over their heads. Yes, you heard me right, danger is currency in this town. Locals create these fireballs from chicken wire, paper, and rags set them on fire and swing them around while walking along the street before throwing them into the harbor. The evening ends with a fireworks display. The most inspiring part is that weather conditions never prevent the show from going on, according to The Stonehaven Fireballs Association, the event hasn’t been cancelled in 150 years. – Cassidy Colarik


In Russia we follow the old religious calendar, so Christmas day falls on the 7th of January and is still a spiritual non-consumerist (I’m looking at you, America) holiday. However, we give gifts on New Year’s eve and celebrate like there’s no tomorrow. And there usually isn’t because we’re so goddamn hungover. On the last minute countdown to the new year we write down a wish on a piece of paper and have to burn it into a glass of champagne and drink it–all before the time runs out. If you have successfully finished the drink with all the ashes on time–your dream will come true. I have set fire to my hair and a rug while trying to accomplish this tradition. – Irina Groushevaia


Kentucky for Christmas. No, it’s not a proposal to pack up and flee south for the holidays–it’s actually the name of a marketing campaign KFC launched in Japan back in 1974 to boost sales on Christmas Day. Japan has long held affinity for American culture, and marketers wanted to portray the idea that Americans love to eat fried chicken on Christmas–which is, of course, incorrect, but only because we love to eat fried chicken every day. The end result is Colonel Sanders in Santa garb and Christmas dinner punctuated with potato wedges and Wet-Naps. I hear Tokyo is beautiful this time of year. – Joe Virgillito


Chileans tend to be somewhat superstitious and also like to give any reason for you to make a wish. For instance, if you hit your elbow and don’t rub it, you get to make a wish, or if someone pulls a loose thread off of you and they don’t hit you, then you’re going to get into a fight. One thing they do for Christmas is put their shoes under the Christmas tree. If you don’t put your shoes there then you won’t get any presents. It’s kind of funny too, because chopping down evergreen trees is illegal, so everyone has those weird tinfoil fake ones. It’s quite the tradition. – Elena Childers


Let’s talk about Antarctica! They get a little bit lonely down there but they know how to party. While we’re busy getting drunk and yelling at relatives during the winter holidays, those stationed at Antarctic research stations are busy getting down for midsummer and vice versa. Given that they can’t go shopping for Secret Santa, many of them learn carpentry and knitting to make gifts for their fellow scientists. Also one year the cook made croissants. Party on, people. – Taia Handlin